Waving a copy of this book, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the 772 delegates assembled on November 21, 2009, for the opening session of the First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) that he agreed with the book’s central message, i.e., that it was necessary “to create a new revolutionary state from below that is a real mechanism for the construction of socialism of the 21st century”. Chavez recommended that the delegates read Lenin’s book as a theoretical guide for how to accomplish this task.
Bolshevism & the Russian Revolution
Vladimir Ilych Lenin was the founder and, until his death in January 1924, the central leader of the Russian Bolshevik Party, the first party in history to lead a victorious socialist revolution. In doing so, the Bolsheviks proved for the first time in history that it was possible for the working class to forge out of its own ranks a revolutionary socialist party that was capable of organizing the workers and their allies to overthrow the political rule of the capitalist class, establish a working people’s government and to use this government to begin the construction of a socialist society.
This is the second of two volumes of key writings by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin published by Resistance Books covering the birth of Bolshevism as a political trend and a party organisation. The first volume contained the main works written by Lenin from 1899 through 1902 in which he polemicised against the opportunist “economist” current then dominant among the adherents of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The second volume covers the period from the second congress of the RSDLP in August 1903 to the setting up of the Bolshevik party organisation (officially called the Bureau of Majority Committees) in December 1904.
One hundred years ago this month, the first proletarian revolution in the new imperialist epoch of capitalism began. This revolution, the first Russian revolution, was born of mass discontent aggravated by a deeply unpopular war, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. It began with a wave of strikes, riots and street demonstrations protesting the police shooting on a peaceful mass workers’ demonstration in St Petersburg, the capital of the vast Russian Empire, on Sunday, January 22, 1905 (January 9 in the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time), killing 1000 and wounding 2000 of the 200,000 marchers.
In Links No. 26, Murray Smith, a former leading member of the Scottish Socialist Party and now a leading member of the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire (the French section of the Trotskyist Fourth International), made extensive comments on my article “The Bolshevik Party and ‘Zinovievism’ Comments on a Caricature of Leninism printed in Links No. 24., focusing in particular on the issue of the public expression and debate of political differences within the Bolshevik Party.(1)
In his otherwise well-argued article “The Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat Peasantry: Permanent Revolution Vietnam” in Activist Vol. 14, No. 4, Comrade Mike Karadjis wrote: According to Siegelbaum (Soviet State and Society Between Revolutions, Cambridge Uni Press, 1992, pp. 43-44), the ‘poor peasant committees’ had been a failure; there had been no second stage of the revolution in the countryside. I think this is probably correct, judging both by what happened next and what has happened elsewhere in the world...
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was the founder and, until his death in January 1924, the central leader of the Bolshevik Party. Without the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, the Russian workers would not have been able to conquer power in November (October in the Julien calendar then still in effect in Russia) 1917 and create the world’s first workers state. The world historic significance of the October 1917 Revolution is that for the first time it proved it was possible for the working class to take power and replace capitalism with a new social order, and the workers could forge out of their ranks a political party that was capable of leading that revolutionary struggle to victory.
The disintegration of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union opened an important debate within the Marxist movement about how to evaluate the history of the socialist movement, and especially of the Bolshevik Party, the party that led the world’s first successful socialist revolution. One of the central aims of Links has been to provide a forum for such debate.
The establishment in Russia of a revolutionary workers’ and peasants’ government by the second Congress of Soviets on November 8, 1917 (October 26, 1917 in the Julian calendar which remained in effect in Russia until January 1918) and the subsequent dissolving by the Soviet government of the first democratically-elected parliament in Russia (the Constituent Assembly) polarised the working-class movement around the world.
This work was written by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin in April 1920 and published in booklet form in Russian in June 1920, and in English, French and German the following month. The manuscript of the booklet was entitled: “An Attempt to Conduct a Popular Discussion on Marxist Strategy and Tactics”. Copies of it were given to each delegate attending the 2nd Congress of the Communist International held in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and Moscow between July 19 and August 7, 1920.